Meningitis means inflammation of the meninges, which are the coverings of the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by bacteria or viruses and is present worldwide. The Meningitis ACWY vaccine prevents 4 different strains of bacterial (meningococcal) meningitis. There is also a new vaccine available to protect against the B strain. The 6 main strains of meningococcal meningitis are A, B, C, W135, X and Y.
It can affect anyone but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults. It is usually caught from someone who carries the organism in their nose or throat but are not ill themselves. It is contracted from coughing, sneezing, kissing or sharing implements that are put in the mouth such as toothbrushes or cutlery. There are frequent outbreaks in Sub-Saharan Africa and also, they have been known during religious pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia. Treatment is with the emergency administration of antibiotics.
Risk of transmission is low, but travellers are advised to avoid overcrowded areas. Vaccination is recommended for travel to regions with a current outbreak or ongoing epidemic where close, prolonged contact with local population is anticipated, travel to a high endemic region for individuals with immunodeficiency and for travel to the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage.
Some people can carry the bacteria without any symptoms. Those that do experience symptoms can have:
- High temperature (usually 38 or above).
- Intense headache.
- Dislike of looking at bright light.
- Neck stiffness.
- Drowsiness or unresponsiveness.
- Rash – the rash does not fade when a glass is rolled over it.
Meningitis ACWY Vaccination
Vaccine: Menveo or Nimenrix
One dose required for all over 1 year old. Booster advised after 5 years if further travel to endemic area.
£50 per dose.
Meningitis B Vaccination
Vaccine: Bexsero or Trumenba
Course of 2 vaccinations over 1-2 months depending on age.
£115 per dose.